NCG Review: Happy Birthdays (Nintendo Switch)

Happy Birthdays is a Sandbox game that allows you to create life!  Is this title worth purchasing?

Story:

As mentioned above, Happy Birthdays is a sandbox game so you’ll be spending more time playing with the environment than in a story.  The overall premise of the game is that you were removed from your “real life” and in order to go back you must create life on the Cube. Happy Birthdays gives players enough of a “why” in order to proceed with the game.  Make life. Go home. You’ll mostly be focusing on achieving the missions the game gives you.2018061514201100-C7E6210BCC993E131C6B11EC9D38E3E4

Gameplay:

Happy Birthdays is a very straightforward game.  In order to create certain species, you must manipulate the environment and reach the ideal environmental conditions for species to thrive.  This entails raising and lowering the land and using select skills to nourish, extinguish, or preserve species.2018061514254000-C7E6210BCC993E131C6B11EC9D38E3E4

Building options are limited to only raising and lowering land.  You don’t get anything special when you move land X amount of times or discover new elements. Overall, there is very little direct reward for modifying the environment.  However, you will find yourself sinking hours into modifying the terrain while trying to meet, or maintain, certain environmental conditions.2018061514093400-C7E6210BCC993E131C6B11EC9D38E3E4

The game limits how much land you can alter at once.  You have an energy bar that depletes as you alter the terrain.  Once your energy depletes, you have to step back from the cube you are shaping and let “life” take place.  There are two modes: Micro Mode, where you are altering the terrain, and Macro Mode, where you view the world from afar and start time for the cube. Switching between modes allows you modify and then monitor the conditions of your cube. As time passes you will “witness” the birth of new species.  You will also be able to monitor the environmental conditions of the cube.

Graphics: 

What gives the game its charm is the simple graphics.  Creatures and plants are not overly detailed yet still maintain a distinct look.  You are reminded that you are not creating a “real” environment which is nice.   Real environments would feel stressful anyway.2018061514261600-C7E6210BCC993E131C6B11EC9D38E3E4

Audio:

You basically get one track throughout the game.  But the melodic piano of the soundtrack is really all you need while you construct your environment.

Verdict:

Pros

The game is designed for you to easily sink hours in to.  Wanting to meet the environmental conditions, yet shape your cube to how you want it to look easily takes up a chunk of time.2018061514254600-C7E6210BCC993E131C6B11EC9D38E3E4

On top of that, you gain an appreciation for the delicate details that have shaped the lives we live and the planet we live on.

Cons

While you can easily sink time into creating a unique environment on the cube, it’s easy to lose interest in the game itself.  Your tasks and how to achieve them are not necessarily clear.  After an extended amount of time with little to no achievements (because the game did not give enough direction, at least in my case), it becomes very easy to set the game down and forget about it.  Although I met the needed criteria, my planet became stagnant and I wasn’t really quite sure how to recover from it.

There isn’t much to control since you mostly raise and lower land, but if you accidentally overlap land spaces when raising/lowering you can create land too high, or too low, or with too much variation.  To go back and fix it feels tedious, especially because the controls make precision difficult when you have to manipulate 1 block at a time.2018061514272200-C7E6210BCC993E131C6B11EC9D38E3E4

I recommend this game when you want to sit down and create for hours.  It’s easy to lose yourself in shaping the land and altering the conditions of your cube. This isn’t a game you can put minimal time and effort  in to.

I would rate this game a 6 out of 10.

Score

What is your favorite sandbox game? Are you a fan of the genre? Let us know in the comments!

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